Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Friday Before the Election

November 5th can't come fast enough.

The Religious Institute is a non-partisan, multifaith organization. I can't tell you who to vote for, but I can tell you how important it is that you do vote.

I can also remind you how our sexual rights may be deeply affected by the outcome of national, state and local elections. The next President of the United States will likely name more than one Supreme Court Justice. Resources for sexuality education, abstinence-only-until-marriage education, HIV/AIDS prevention and service programs, and family planning services will be decided by majorities in the U.S. Congress. Local school boards will determine the content of sexuality and AIDS education programs.

On November 4th, voters in California, Florida and Arizona will decide on questions of marriage equality. Arkansans will vote on whether lesbian and gay persons can adopt or provide foster care. Voters in South Dakota will decide if abortion will remain legal; in Colorado whether to extend "equality of justice rights" to "embryos at the moment of fertilization;" and in California, whether a teenager's parent must be notified about her abortion.

The stakes could not be higher.

Journalists and pollsters are already speculating about how different groups of religious people will vote. Let's make sure that as people of faith, we let them know we are voting for sexual justice.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Red Sex, Blue Sex....From the New Yorker

This week's New Yorker has a fascinating article on evangelical teenagers and sexual behavior.

You can read it here at :

The author reports that white evangelical teen girls on average begin sex earlier than girls who are Jewish or mainline Protestant or Catholic.

I found this paragraph about reactions to Bristol Palin's pregnancy intriguing:

"... the reactions to it have exposed a cultural rift that mirrors America’s dominant political divide. Social liberals in the country’s “blue states” tend to support sex education and are not particularly troubled by the idea that many teenagers have sex before marriage, but would regard a teen-age daughter’s pregnancy as devastating news. And the social conservatives in “red states” generally advocate abstinence-only education and denounce sex before marriage, but are relatively unruffled if a teenager becomes pregnant, as long as she doesn’t choose to have an abortion."

I actually think that "social liberals" don't like high school teenage sex any more than "social conservatives" but I do agree that many of us would be even more troubled by our teenage sons and daughters dropping out of school to have babies.

I know I have a lot of "social conservative" readers...what do you think about how the author describes you? And really, "relatively unruffled?" Surely conservatives share the concern about teenagers truncating their futures, entering into teenage marriages with high rates of divorce, ending their education. Yes??

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Break from the Election

A few weeks ago, I did an interview with a journalist in California on raising sexually healthy teenagers.

It's now a podcast, and available from the ITunes store. I haven't listened to it yet, but the transcript is posted at You can get to the podcast from there as well.

And if you are a parent or grandparent, I hope you'll check out information about my books at There are excerpts of all three books there.

Back to the election tomorrow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Celebrating Women Over 40

The cover of the new More magazine features Jane Fonda at 70, Sharon Stone at 50, and Tea Leoni at 42 looking strong, beautiful, and sexy.

When I saw it, I thought that a cover of the three women dominating the upcoming election would have made the same point. Cindy, 54, Michelle, 44, and Sarah, 44.

This election is changing the way the public looks at women over 40. These women are eloquent, forceful, independent, accomplished, beautiful, and dare I say it - sexy. They are all women who balance motherhood and careers. They say to America and the world, women over 40 still have "it."

We've known all of them since high school. Cindy, the beautiful homecoming princess who every boy wanted to go out with but stayed home alot because they were afraid to ask. Sarah, the cheerleader who was great for gossip but you knew you had to watch your back. Michelle, the student government president. (Me -- I was the co-editor in chief of the yearbook and voted class flirt.)

They are in a way new role models for today's girls and young women. Actually, maybe for adult women as well. Now, if we could just have their hair, make up, and clothing allowances.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Marriage Matters -- For Same Sex Couples and the Rest of Us

A friend and colleague of mine is getting married today in California.

For the third time.

To the same man.

Their son will be their best man. Again.

And on November 4th, the voters in California could decide that none of those ceremonies make them legally wed.

And the federal government recognizes none of them.

I wonder how many of us who are in heterosexual marriages would go to the trouble -- or would choose to publicly recommit themselves to each other, again and again, knowing that it might not really count.

The difference is we don't have to. I was married 26 years ago. No one has ever questioned our right to be married, get benefits, be recognized -- and I've never had to do it again or explain to our children why some people don't want us to be a family.

It's pretty clear what's wrong with this picture. The injustice is staggering.

But, it's going to change. And voters in California, Arizona, and Florida can make a difference. So can the rest of us by standing up for marriage for same sex couples. Like 2200 clergy did earlier this week.

For now, mazal tov Joel. I hope it's a glorious celebration.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

God and the election

According to a yahoo news story, Sarah Palin has said that the election is now in God's hands.


Was the last election in God's hands? Or the one before that? How about in other countries -- does God choose the rulers there too?

In a few days, several hundred fundamentalist Christian ministers are going to pray in the San Diego arena for Prop 8 (the anti-same sex marriage bill) in California to pass on election day. You'd think they'd pray for something really important -- like the end of poverty or the war or homelessness or for jobs, equality, health. Nope, gay people who want to enter into legal committed relationships.

My own theology is that God is too big to worry about the 2008 elections, Presidential or otherwise. The only hands this election is in is OUR'S.

I'm spending the weekend making phone calls for my candidates and will spend part of election day driving people to the polls. What are your hands doing?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More on Congo Sabbath

Last week, I blogged about our new CONGO SABBATH initiative. We are inviting diverse congregations from across the United States to become involved in supporting the women and girls in the Congo. We invited more than 1800 readers of the Religious Institute's newsletter to sign up for more information, and so far, we have heard from only 30 congregations.

We need YOUR help to make this project that we are doing to support the V-Day's and Unicef's efforts in the Congo a success.

Perhaps I didn't do a good enough job of describing the horror of women's lives in the Congo. Saturday, the New York Times ran this excruciating front page story. Read it at

And then let me know if we can count on you to get involved. Send us an email at and we'll send you more information about how your faith community can help.

The women and girls of the Congo are counting on us to stand in solidarity with them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

2200 Clergy From Across the United States and Every Major Religious Tradition Support Marriage for Same Sex Couples -- Blessed Be!

I am so pleased to tell you that on Monday, the Religious Institute announced that more than 2,200 ordained clergy have signed our Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Marriage Equality.

They come from all 50 states (and D.C. and Puerto Rico) and represent more than 50 different faith traditions. They are rabbis, reverends, priests, bishops, elders, and imams. They include 100 of the best known religious leaders and thinkers in the United States, including the presidents and deans of a dozen seminaries and the elected leaders of eight major denominations, including the United Church of Christ, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism's Rabbis, the Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, and the Unitarian Universalist Association. We are also pleased that so many Catholic and Episcopal bishops joined the call for marriage equality, as well as Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu leaders.

We are grateful to all of the ordained clergy who are willing to publicly stand for marriage equality for same-sex couples. Read the list here. If you are clergy, please add your name. If you are a person of faith and your clergy person isn't listed, please forward it on.

And please speak up for the rights of gays and lesbians to civil and religious marriage.

We cannot allow the perception to continue that marriage for same-sex couples violates religious principles. As these 2,200 ordained clergy will tell you, there is strong theological support for blessing these unions and affording these couples equal rights under the law. As the Open Letter says, we know that "where there is love, the sacred is in our midst."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Economics and Sexual Matters

It's Friday morning in Dallas, Texas, and in a few hours, I am leaving for Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It's been a busy week. On Tuesday night, I had the privilege of participating in a forum at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City to launch the new book, "Dispatches from the Religious Left." Yesterday, the Religious Institute held a colloquium in Dallas for clergy and sexual justice leaders from throughout the state of Texas. Tomorrow, I keynote a women's conference in Grand Rapids, and on Sunday, I will preach at a large non-denominational church and do a workshop on being a sexually healthy congregation for its leaders.

People are hungry for our message, from the Blue State of New York to the Red State of Texas to the Purple State of Michigan . On Wednesday, my colleague Tim Palmer and I met with one of the editors at the Dallas Morning News. He asked something like, "how in a time of economic crisis can you get people to pay attention to your message?"

I told him that our issues are also economic issues. That poor and low income women are much more likely to get pregnant unintentionally, have abortions, their teens more likely to have babies as teenagers. That poor and low income gay, lesbian, and transgender persons are more likely to face discrimination, not have health insurance, and not have the resources to obtain legal assistance for benefits.

But, that I also believed that as middle class families are affected by the economic crisis that families will be strained, marriages will be strained, domestic violence may increase, that teenagers will face stresses and losses that they are not prepared for -- and that clergy must be prepared to deal with how job losses and loss of resources affect individuals and families relationships and sense of self.

People are hungry for our message -- that their sexuality is part of God's gift to us, that sexual and gender diversities are part of that blessings, and that we must make responsible sexual decisions. It's a privilege to bring it to people across the country.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Support Women and Girls in the Congo -- Announcing the Congo Sabbath Initiative

Over the past ten years hundreds of thousands of women and girls living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been victims of brutal sexual violence, leaving them with severe physical ailments such as lesions, traumatic fistuale, and HIV/AIDS. Seven in ten of these women go untreated because of inadequate medical facilities.

I am pleased to let my readers know that today the Religious Institute launched the CONGO SABBATH INITIATIVE to ask congregations to become involved in supporting these women.

We are working to develop a faith-based initiative, to complete the V-Day and UNICEF, on behalf of UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, campaign titled “Stop Raping our Greatest Resource, Power to Women and Girls of the DRC.” This is a global Campaign to increase pressure at all levels to do more to stop rape in the DRC while highlighting the role of women as activists. One result of the Campaign will be the establishment of the City of Joy at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu—a center for women for women who have survived rape and torture, where they will receive medical treatment, education, leadership training, and a chance to earn income.

To learn how your congregation can get involved, please visit our web site and click on the Congo Sabbath initiative. You could decide to do an education program, raise money for the hospital and the City of Joy, offer a prayer or responsive reading (or a full worship service on violence against women), stage the Vagina Monologues, or post information about how to become involved. There are lots of ways to help a congregation participate.

I'm delighted to report that forty-five nationally recognized religious leaders have joined the Religious Institute in calling congregations to participate in the Congo Sabbath initiative, an effort to involve religious leaders and faith communities in ending violence against women in the DRC. The list includes the leadership of seven denominations and the National Council of Churches of Christ.

They endorsed this statement:

"As faith leaders we are called today to see, hear, and respond to the suffering caused by violence against women. We encourage faith communities to participate in the Congo Sabbath initiative."


*Dr. Ellen T. Armour, Director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality, Vanderbilt Divinity School
*Rev. Steven Baines, Director of Interfaith Outreach, People for the American Way
*Fr. Dr. Luis Barrios, Chair of the Latin American & Latina/o Studies, John Jay College of Criminal Justice-City University of New York (CUNY)
*Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, Director, Faith Voices for the Common Good
*Rev. Dr. John Buehrens, Former President, Unitarian Universalist Association
*Rev. Ignacio Castuera, National Chaplain, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
*Rev. Robert Chase, Founding Director, Intersections
*Cyra Choudhury, Executive Director, Foundation for the Advancement of Women in Religion
*Rev. Steve Clapp, President, Christian Community
*Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, Regional Director, Union for Reform Judaism Pennsylvania Council
*Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, Presiding Bishop, The Fellowship
*Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, Founder and Senior Analyst, FaithTrust Institute
*Rev. Larry Greenfield, Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago
*Rev. Debra W. Haffner, Director, Religious Institute
*Ann L. Hanson, Minister for Sexuality Education and Justice, Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ
*Rev. Cedric Harmon, Associate Field Director for Religious Outreach, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
*Dr. Mary E. Hunt, Co-Director, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER)
*Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, Founder, Progressive Faith Foundation
*Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary
*Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, Director, Population and Reproductive Health Program, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Former Secretary General, World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)
*Rev. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
*Rabbi Dr. Peter S. Knobel, President, Central Conferences of American Rabbis
*Harry Knox, Director of the Religion and Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign
*Rev. Jennifer Kottler, Former Executive Director, Let Justice Roll
*Rev. Peter Laarman, Executive Director, Progressive Christians Uniting
*Rabbi Michael Lerner, Chair, Network of Spiritual Progressives
*Rev. Michael E. Livingston, Executive Director, International Council of Community Churhces; Immediate Past President, National Council of Churches
*Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
*Jon O’Brien, President, Catholics for Choice
*Dr. Mercy Oduyoye, Founder, Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians; Director, Institute of Women in Religion and Culture
*Rev. Troy Plummer, Executive Director, Reconciling Ministries Network
*Dr. Sylvia Rhue, Director of Religious Affairs, National Black Justice Coalition
*Rev. Karen H. Senecal, Clergy Project Manager, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
*Rev. William Sinkford, President, Unitarian Universalist Association
*Rev. Dr. William Stayton, Professor of Sexuality and Religion, Center of Excellence for Sexual Health, Morehouse School of Medicine
*Rev. Ron Stief, Director of Organizing Strategy, Faith in Public Life
*Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
*Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Yale Divinity School
*Rev. Carlton Veazey, President and CEO, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
*Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Founder and Director, The Shalom Center
*Loribeth Weinstein, Executive Director, Jewish Women International
*Dr. Traci West, Professor of Ethics and African American Studies, Drew University Theological School
*Rev. Elder Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
*Rev. James E. Winkler, General Secretary, United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
*Ani Zonneveld, President, Muslims for Progressive Values

*Organizations for identification only
** List in formation

I hope you'll join this important initiative. Click here for more information.

Photo courtesy of Paula Allen/

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I'm guessing that more than a few of you are making extra efforts to laugh these days. I find myself making the effort to stay up for The Daily Show, to find something to laugh about at the end of the day, and at least for the first ten minutes of SNL.

So, last night, we set out to find a funny movie. We had seen "Burn After Reading", and so we went to see Bill Maher's "Religulous."

And, it did have more than a few LOL moments. If you've watched Maher at all, you know that he has no personal use for organized religion, and in these interviews, he finds ample people who are willing to make "religulous comments." He surely brings out what a friend at the movie theater called the "shadow side" of organized religion.

But, ultimately, by the end of the movie I was angry. Maher seems totally ignorant of historical exegetical criticism of the Bible or that people can value the Bible without being a literalist. His lack of knowledge about Scripture is writ large throughout the movie.

But, much more dismaying is that he is either completely ignorant of, or just chose not to show, either the existence of a progressive religious voice or any of the positive work organized religion does in the world. No reference to religious leadership in social movements, like ending slavery or the civil rights movement -- or anti-poverty efforts today -- or a single interview with any of the wonderful diverse religious leaders I am privileged to know and work with for social justice.

The end result is the viewer is left with the idea that Religious = Fundamentalism and that the only other possible response is secular. The movie plays into the idea held by far too many on the right that the religious right is the only legitimate religious voice in the public square -- and by far too many on the left that there is no value in organized religion or faith.

Several years ago, I coined the term "religiophobia" to characterize progressive people with an irrational fear of organized religion (like homophobia is an irrational fear of gay people or gynephobia is an irrational fear of women.) This movie is full of it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Marriage Equality for Same Sex Couples in Connecticut

We are celebrating the Connecticut Supreme Court decision for marriage equality, handed down this morning.

Connecticut joins California and Massachussetts -- Maryland and New Jersey may follow soon.

The arc of the universe bends towards justice -- and it's time to celebrate.

To my Connecticut gay and lesbian readers, I'd love to be one of the first clergy to perform one!

Yah hoo!

Religious Dispatches from the Left -- Join Us Tuesday Night in New York City

My regular readers know that the Religious Institute has been calling for progressive religious leaders to understand and articulate sexual justice as part of a progressive religious agenda. We were delighted when Fred Clarkson asked Tim Palmer and I to write a chapter for his new book of essays, "Dispatches from the Religious Left." It's just out, and on Tuesday, October 14th, I will be part of a panel in New York City at the historic Marble Collegiate Church launching the book. There will be a full gospel choir, and I am honored to be among these wonderful speakers. If you're in New York City, it's free and I hope you will join us.

Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America
A Book Launch Celebration

Chris Hedges, Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis, Frederick Clarkson, Rev. Debra Haffner, Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou
with music by Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir

October 14, 2008
Doors open at 6:30pm

Middle Collegiate Church
2nd Avenue between 6th and 7th Street50 East 7th Street, New York, New York 10003

On October 14, 2008 at 6:30pm , Middle Collegiate Church, 50 E. 7th Street, will host the book launch celebration of Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America-a ground-breaking collection of 19 essays by 22 leading progressive religious figures that seeks to launch a national conversation about how to create and sustain a far more politically dynamic Religious Left in America.

Opening with the soul stirrring multicultural and multiracial 40 voice Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir, this riveting evening of discussion will celebrate the revival of the religious left in America.

Moderated by Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis, author, The Power of Stories (Abingdon Press, 2008) and Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church

The panel will feature Dispatches contributors:
Chris Hedges, award winning journalist and the best-selling author of I Don't Believe in Atheists; Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner, Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing; Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, Associate Minister for Missions, Social Justice and Community Action at Middle Collegiate Church and author of the forthcoming Gods, Gays, and Guns: Religion and the Future of Democracy (Ig, 2009) . Frederick Clarkson, Dispatches editor and author of American Theocracy.

Don't miss this important opportunity to learn about the emerging religious left, and discover how liberal and progressive religious voices can begin to influence the religious and political direction of this country! Let us celebrate. Books will be on sell after the event. As Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell writes in her introduction, "Finally, the Religious Left has found its voice."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Yom Kippur -- Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur will begin in a few hours.

It is for the Jewish community the holiest day of the year. It is a day to fast, to atone, to ask forgiveness, and at its end, start anew.

I have been keeping a Yom Kippur journal now for almost 30 years. Tomorrow, I will go down to the beach and write the entry for 2008, and I will take the time to read the entries that began in my mid 20's. I will review the past year, paying special attention to the areas where I have let down others, let myself down, where I must grow. I will make commitments for who I hope to be a year from now when I write in 2009. I will pray for a blessed year for the people I love -- and for a better year for us all.

"For the sins that I remember and the sins that I forget" -- a prayer that will be heard in most synagogues tonight. There is so much to atone for -- in the world, in our communities, in our faith communities, in our homes, in our selves.

But, I will also take the time to remember all of my blessings and feel grateful -- grateful for my family, my friends, and the work I am called to do.

May this be a year of blessings for us all.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Wasting Your Tax Dollars: New Grants For Abstinence Education Announced

I imagine that you are as worried about the current economic crisis as I am -- the federal deficit, our IRAs and other retirement funds, the federal bailout of Wall Street, your mortgages, your ability to get loans to send your children to college, the price of gas and groceries, and so on.

It's a pretty scary time.

So, I thought you might want to see how some of your tax dollars are being spent. According to the National Abstinence Clearinghouse, here are the list of organizations that just received grants for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Note how many of them are crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life organizations, religious organizations, and organizations with fear-based curricula. I don't know the content of these particular programs, so maybe a few of them are doing important work on helping young teens delay, but I do know that they have to teach that sexual behavior only belongs in heterosexual marriage and that the don't teach contraception and STD prevention, no less acknowledge LGT teens. These amounts are huge -- bigger than the entire budget of my organization.

Remember that the federal evaluation has not found a single program yet that has been effective at helping young people abstain from sex until they are married. And think about sending your Congressperson a note that this program must be brought to a close. Teenagers lives and futures are at stake -- and frankly, the U.S. can't continue to spend OUR money this way.

Here's the list:

Crisis Pregnancy Center, Inc.Anchorage, AK$352,926
Care Net Pregnancy Center of the Tanana ValleyFairbanks, AK$541,444
Teens Empowerment Awareness with Resolutions, Inc.Phenix City, AL$486,
137Prim N Proper/Choosing to ExcelConway, AR$600,000
Tree of Life Preventive Health Maintenance, Inc.Fort Smith, AR$512,500Arizona
Mexico Border Health FoundationTucson, AZ$550,000
Crisis Pregnancy Centers of TucsonTucson, AZ$599,969
Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health, Inc.Banning, CA$512,500
Pacific Camps Family ResourceCamarillo, CA$599,539
Imperial Valley Regional Occupatioinal ProgramEl Centro, CA$495,837
Life NetworkColorado Springs, CO$402,700
Friends First, Inc.Littleton, CO$599,939
Young Men's Christian Association of Pueblo, COPueblo, CO$599,600
Best Friends FoundationWashington, DC$550,000
Heartland Rural Health Network, Inc.Avon Park, FL$497,830
Catholic Charities of Central Florida, Inc.Orlando, FL $600,000
Live the Life Ministries, Inc.Tallahassee, FL$599,870
A Women's Place MinistriesTampa, FL$600,000First
Care Family Resources, Inc.West Palm Beach, FL$600,000River Road, Inc.Albany, GA$484,180
Choosing the Best, Inc.Atlanta, GA$600,000
Quest for Change, Inc.Avondale Estates, GA$480,799
New Horizons Community Service BoardColumbus, GA$573,059
Wilkinson County Board of EducationIrwinton, GA$418,896
Willie M Simpson Evangelistic Ministries, Inc.Jonesboro, GA$431,509
Friends of Cobb County Commision on Children and YouthMarietta, GA$600,000
Family Advocacy ServicesCarbondale, IL$600,000
I. A.M. A.B.L.E. Center for Family Development, Inc.Chicago, IL$600,000
Joyous Years Youth EmpowermentChicago, IL$600,000
Saints Mary and Elizabeth MedicalChicago, IL$549,625
Abstinence and Marriage Education PartnershipWheeling, IL$512,500
Abstinence Education, Inc.Wichita, KS$600,000
New Hope CenterCrestview Hills, KY$599,988
Women for Life Inc. (d/b/a Assurance: Care for Women and Girls)Lexington, KY$550,000
Congregacion Leon de JudaBoston, MA$600,000
The Women's Clinic of Kansas CityIndependence, MO$512,500
Better Family Life, Inc.St. Louis, MO$599,800
Thrive St. Louis Pregnancy Resources CenterSt. Louis, MO$549,755
Family Resource Center of Raleigh, Inc.Raleigh, NC$512,500
Father Flanagan's Boys' BoulevardBoys Town, NE$550,000
City of NorfolkNorfolk, NE$469,860
Winnebago Tribe of NebraskaWinnebago, NE$395,460
IMPACT Community Development CorporationMontclair, NJ$600,000
Harvest of Hope Family Services Network, Inc.Somerset, NJ$550,000
Free Teens USA, Inc.Westwood, NJ$550,000
Socorro General HospitalSocorro, NM$550,000
Be'er Hagolah Institutes, Inc.Brooklyn, NY$290,398
Boys & Girls Club of the Northtowns of Western New YorkBuffalo, NY$512,500Elizabeth's
New Life Center, Inc.Dayton, OH$600,000St. Vincent Mercy Medical CenterToledo, OH$600,000
Linclon Intermediate Unit-12New Oxford, PA$550,000
Palmetto Family CouncilColumbia, SC$600,000
Rural America InitiativesRapid City, SD$512,500
Alpha CenterSioux Falls, SD$600,000
Women's Care Center of Rhea County, Inc.Dayton, TN$392,540
Boys to MenJohnson City, TN$498,140
Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority, Inc.Morristown, TN$582,822
Austin LifeGuard Character and Sexuality EducationAustin, TX$582,900
Alternative Community Development ServicesDallas, TX$454,922
Texas CollegeTyler, TX$600,000
Charlottesville Pregnancy CenterCharlottesville, VA$548,843
Clarkston School District J250-185Clarkston, WA$464,162
Teen-Aid, Inc.Spokane, WA$599,762
AWARE, Inc.Vancouver, WA$499,849
AIDS Resource Center of WisconsinGreen Bay, WI$600,000
Center for Self Sufficiency, Inc.Milwaukee, WI$599,800
School District of WestfieldWestfield, WI$491,819

Friday, October 03, 2008

Who Won The Debate?

I was the only woman on the Wesleyan extemporaneous debate team in college and one of the few women on the circuit during those three years.

I learned a lot from college debate. Answer the question. Stay on topic. Don't worry about what you don't know; tell them what you do. Don't make faces at your opponent. Smile. Use small gestures. Keep your hair out of your eyes. Dress nicely. Talk to the audience. Appeal to the judges. And that my team would benefit because the expectations of me, as a woman in a male "sport," would be low.

I had to cringe as I listened to some of the debate commentary last night. There was some consensus that at least Sarah Palin hadn't done anything terrible and that Joe Biden had treated her with appropriate respect. Is it really 2008 not 1975?

I'll let you decide who won. Sexual rights surely did not. The bottom line agreement on laws protecting same-sex couples but opposition to marriage equality was not unexpected, but still made me sad. Allowing that marriage should be a decision made by the faith community was better than saying that we should "tolerate" all people, but STILL, I would have liked to have heard more affirmation for LGBT persons from both sides. Senator Biden said something about his violence against women act twice and Roe v. Wade once; Governor Palin mentioned international women's rights once. I would have really liked to have heard questions and answers on AIDS, the Supreme Court, abortion, sexuality education, pay equity, parenting support, and so on.

So who won? Let me know what you think. Surely the differences could not be more stark. Make sure you are registered to vote. Make sure you have gotten an absentee ballot and vote now if you are going to be unable to on November 4th. The post play of the debate really isn't that important -- the future of the country is.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's October -- Are You Celebrating?

I received an email this morning saying it was International Non-Violence Day in honor of Gandhi's birthday.

October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Let's Talk About Sex Month (to encourage parent/child communication about sexuality.) National Coming Out Day is in a few weeks as well.

It's easy to be a bit cynical about these months, colored ribbons, and colored jelly wrist bands. Surely, these represent issues that should be talked about all twelve months of the year. Surely we are called to educate ourselves and our congregations about these issues on a regular basis.

But, on the other hand, wouldn't it be great to see these issues raised by a reporter or in one of the upcoming debates? Or, maybe you've been looking for a reason to preach on a sexual issue and you could tie it to one of these.

And maybe it's a reminder to think about these issues in the context of your own life. Schedule a mammogram or remind the women over 35 you love to do so. Reach out or donate to your local domestic violence shelter. Talk to your own children about sexuality. Share your story about coming out or make sure your workplace or church or school is a safe place for LGBT people to do so. Ask a local candidate where they stand on these issues.

Pick one -- or think about another. Let me know.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happy 60th Birthday, Rev. Forrest Church

Taking a day off from the world to observe Rosh Hashana was good for my soul.

It also helped not being on email or reading anything about the economic crisis for a day.

It gave me time to look again at "Love and Death: My Journey Through the Shadow of Death." It is the Reverend Forrest Church's meditations on his definition of religion: "our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die." Rev. Church was told he had only months to live last winter; he just passed his 60th birthday and his 30th year at All Souls in NYC -- two goals he had hoped to meet. You may have read about him in this weekend's NY Times.

Forrest has been an inspiration to me for a long time. When I finished his book, I went on and bought multiple copies to give to my close friends. I'd urge you to do so as well.